Zion Williamson is back and in better shape than ever. Meaning one of the most uniquely unstoppable forces in NBA history is in better physical condition than he has ever been. Combine that with joining a roster that proved they were a playoff team without him, and you have the recipe for an MVP season.
Far-Fetched Friday: Memphis to Win World Cup Golden Ball or Boot
Well, we are in the middle of June during a World Cup year, but unfortunately, we have no games to watch because of FIFA's decision to give the tournament to Qatar. But, with all 32 teams decided, there is plenty of time to make predictions for the tournament that will now be played this November. Since losing to the Czech Republic last summer in the knockout stages of the EUROS, the Netherlands have not lost a game. That run spans 13 games, including friendlies, World Cup qualifiers, and Nations League games. The Netherlands currently have the seventh-highest odds on YahooSports to win the World Cup, but are my pick to win it all.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday, we look at Memphis Depay and the Dutch national team.
All of this came at the back of Louis van Gaal being appointed the Dutch coach for the third time after Frank de Boer's poor EURO tournament. Louis van Gaal was the coach of the Netherlands during that run to the semi-finals back in 2014. He clearly is a phenomenal international coach and seems to be getting the best out of his players in his most recent stint. Louis van Gaal even recently went public with his fight against prostate cancer. He has stated that he will step down from management after the 2022 World Cup concludes. This, I believe, gives the Netherlands that little bit extra of a story to make them play even better. A little like when Denmark rallied together after Christen Eriksen collapsed on the field during the EUROs.
So if the Netherlands are gonna be so good, who will lead them? I mean, this is the country that didn't have a single-player finish in the top 30 rankings for the 2021 Ballon d'Or. Well, a large part of that was because of Virgil Van Dijk being injured for a large part of 2021. The Netherlands can field a very talented backline with Virgil Van Dijk, Matias De Ligt, and Julien Timber. Although the main man to look out for is van Gaal's number 10, Memphis. It may appear that the Netherlands do not have much firepower in attack, but they have a good supporting cast for Memphis. Players like Steven Bergwijn, Wout Weghorst, Noa Lang, and Cody Gakpo all add needed versatility and options to the attack. Despite falling out of favor at Barcelona once Xavi took over, Memphis still found a way to score 12 goals in La Liga this season. Memphis could fall back into favor with Xavi next season just because the club is in such a tough situation financially that there may be no way to replace him. If he does move to a new club, that could be massive for him to become the focal point of a new side and go into the World Cup with as much game time under his belt as possible.
Although where Memphis really looks at his best is for the national team. In the last four Nations League games, Memphis played 197 minutes and scored three goals with one assist. This doesn't even include the fact that he rocketed a penalty off the post. Memphis is the main man when it comes to the Dutch attack, and I do not see that changing ahead of the World Cup. Winning the Golden Ball goes to the best player during the entire tournament, and the Golden Boot goes to the top scorer. Half the battle of winning these awards is going far in the tournament. More games/minutes equals more time to score. This is why the golden ball winner in 2018 was Luka Modric, who did not win the World Cup but was the best player on what turned out to be the most surprising run. The silver ball winner was Eden Hazard, who helped lead Belgium to the semis, and Griezmann won the bronze ball for being the leading scorer on the world cup winning France side. As the penalty taker and striker for a team primed to make a run, Memphis has the squad and ability to be the best player at this upcoming tournament.
Europe's top teams do not look great right now going into the World Cup. England just lost 4-0 to Hungary, Italy failed to qualify, and France is at the bottom of their Nations League group with two points. The team quietly rising to the top is the Netherlands. That is why they are my current pick to win the World Cup while being led by main man Memphis.
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